Bitter cold in Midwest, Northeast to ease during weekend


Large Lake Michigan waves crash against the lakefront, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, causing erosion and ice formation near East 72th Street in Chicago. (Victor Hilitski/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bitterly cold temperatures persisted from the northern Plains to parts of the Great Lakes and northern New England, with schools in some Upper Midwest communities canceling classes for a second day Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory Friday for parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri and several New England states. Wind chill readings in northern Minnesota dropped to about 30 degrees below zero (minus 34 Celsius) as the coldest air of the season lingered.

In Minnesota and elsewhere, warming shelters were filled beyond capacity. Outreach workers and law enforcement hit the streets to make sure those without a home were safe.

“Our goal, Minneapolis, everybody’s goal is to make sure we don’t have any fatalities,” Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson told KMSP-TV. The sheriff and outreach workers directed homeless people to shelters Thursday night and passed out winter gear.

At Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Friday, Southwest Airlines baggage handler Westle Blakes wore long underwear, pants, a turtleneck, a double-layer parka with a hoodie, and two pairs of gloves.

“Once you move inside the plane, you build up heat,” Blakes said. The sunshine makes “you feel like it’s warming up. But actually it’s cold,” he said. “But this is what I signed up for.”

The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office was investigating the death of a 73-year-old woman who was found in her unheated Milwaukee home. Her body temperature had dropped to less than 40 degrees (4 Celsius). The electricity was working, but the heat was either turned off or malfunctioning, according to the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

In Omaha, Nebraska, the death of an 80-year-old man was being investigated as possibly related to the cold. Police found the body of Robert Freymuller on Thursday near the assisted-living center where he lived. Police said he was not dressed appropriately for temperatures that were as low as minus 26 degrees (minus 32 Celsius) with the wind chill.

The National Weather Service expected the dangerously cold air mass to give way to more moderate temperatures over the weekend.

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